Saturday, 20 October 2007

nougat practice-run

everyone at home loves nougat... but it's soooo $$$
a little piece (same size as a piece of turkish delight) can be $1 or more... i saw a long piece (may be 20cm in length) for sale at "the essential ingredient" for $14+!!! and u'd think it is only egg white and sugar and some nuts...
how hard could it be to make at home?! and save a few bucks along the way?!?!?... so i decided to put my candy themometer to the test (haven't really used it since i bought it several months ago)
the 1st batch turn out to be too soft... and the texture was too grainy - cos i didn't cook the sugar / syrup long enough and stopped at 120 degrees C... but still got polished off within a week...
so, the next batch, i made some changes and it came out quite fabulous and presentable! (ie- potential x'mas gifts this year)
i combined several recipes and came up with this:
chewy nougat
180g raw almonds (roasted at 180 degrees C for 10min)
20-40g pumpkin seeds (roasted at 180 degrees C for 10 min)
300g raw sugar (recipe called for white / castor sugar, but i changed it for the off white look) 60mL (1/4 cup) honey
60mL glucose syrup
60mL water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (i was supposed to put 1tsp, but ran out)
2 egg whites whipped to firm peaks (use 1 if you want harder nougat)
-roast nuts
-whip eggwhites
-cook sugar, honey, syrup, water until reaching 150+ (ideally 154) degrees C, stirring at beginning until raw sugar crystals dissolve completely but don't stir at the end when it is bubbling and reaching 154; the lower the temp the softer the nougat
-put whipped egg whites in a stainless steel mixing bowl & stream in hot syrup while whipping mad (this step will need 2 people - one with good arm strength and the other with a delicate touch to pour the syrup consistently in a fine stream), like making mayo really...
-nougat mass will get more and more stiff / gummy - end result should be similar to chewing gum consistency
-quickly stir in the roasted nuts and spread on rice paper (this has to be done quick, the longer one takes, the stiffer the mix is and harder to spread on the rice paper)
-flatten out the nougat mass and top it up with another piece of rice paper
-put in a cool area to "set" - don't put in fridge, as it will absorb too much moisture
-several hours later, can be then cut into presentable pieces and and packaged into presents for friends and neighbours! (can also be stored in air tight container in a cool place or in fridge)
tip1) spreading nougat - line up the rice paper (shiny side down - yes it has 2 diff sides, and the shiny one is much more attractive!) and overlap at junction so that nougat mass won't "leak"... spread it quick while it's warm with a knife and top it up with another piece of rice paper, shiny side up this time... water is rice paper killer! don't let it near! not even a drop... tip 2) washing up after nougat making - damn diff!! don't try to scrub, cos it won't happen... instead just add water to the saucepan and dump all the sugar syrup contaminated whisk, spoons etc in and boil it and let the sugar lumps / nougat dissolve
tip 3) cutting nougat - it sticks to everything... make sure this is done in a relatively cool room and use a serrated knife and don't use the sawing action (like cutting bread), instead just wedge the knife up and down several times at the same spot, like a paper cutter... the edges look abit rustic (hence homemade! definitely not store bought)... yet to improve on the cutting method to make it a tad more clean and tidy...
and the taste test: chewy, sweet and nutty... more nuts (may be diff types too, say, macadamia) might heighten the taste and texture up a notch ! (sorry, not a fan of glace cheeries... though it would look more lovely...)
and in terms of cost savings? approx 50 squares of nougat for less than $8 - most $$ being the cost of nuts (if store bought would be $30-40+)

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